A flood of emotion fills your body because of what you just heard and you’re not sure you can hold it in. Will it explode out of your hands, feet, mouth, an eye twitch or will you shove it all down into the recesses of your soul? As discussed in our previous article, entitled “Emotional Intelligence: What is it?”, Emotional Intelligence is the idea that when you experience this surge of feelings, be it intense or subtle, happy or angry, you will know what is happening in you and how to properly manage yourself in the midst of it. And beyond managing yourself, Emotional Intelligence suggests that you can properly respond to someone else’s emotions because you actually understand them.
So how do we get there? How do we increase our emotional quotient (EQ) so that we can masterfully manage ourselves and effectively respond to others? Interestingly enough, it begins with your vocabulary. Studies suggest that the reason we can’t recall memories prior to a certain age, even though the development of our brains should allow for it, is because we don’t have the language to describe those events. Similarly, you can’t understand your emotions without having the language to describe them. So the first step in increasing your EQ is increasing your emotional vocabulary. The four basic emotions you need to grasp are mad, glad, sad and egad! “Egad” means fear, but this way it all rhymes.
Once you’ve mastered acknowledging those four at play in your daily life, expand your vocabulary by Googling “Feeling Wheel”. The feeling wheel picture gives you dozens of emotional words to choose from. Sometimes the word “Sad” just doesn’t quite nail what’s going on in you. If you explore it a bit more you might find that you are feeling ashamed, stupid, remorseful, guilty, lonely or hopeless. Not only do those emotions bring more life and depth to the basic emotion of “Sad,” but they require a deeper level of vulnerability.
And this is the second step to increasing your EQ: vulnerability. Being vulnerable with safe people will give you the space to use your newly found emotional vocabulary. If I learn to speak another language, but don’t ever practice with other people, I’m sure to lose it. Furthermore, a crucial part to practicing vulnerability is taking full ownership for what you are feeling. No one can “make” you feel anything. “You make me so mad,” is not vulnerable. “I feel hurt,” is massively vulnerable. Feel it, recognize it, own it and tell someone safe.
It’s simple, but not easy. Vulnerably practice your new feeling vocabulary and you will get closer to becoming an emotional Einstein.